On Friday 12 May 2017 I did a 59 mile ride to three township halls in three county halls, picking the destinations to take advantage of a wind out of the northeast.
The first part of the ride was along familiar roads I’ve ridden many times over the past 20-some years, but this was the first time I stopped at the Schoolcraft Township Hall in Kalamazoo County, between Vicksburg and Schoolcraft.
After grabbing a bite to eat in Schoolcraft (sitting on the curb to eat) I headed west on W Avenue and then turned south onto 10th street, which is mostly a gravel road. The road becomes 11th Street and angles to the southeast to get out of the way of Flowerfield Creek, crossing XY Avenue at an intersection once known as Insley Corners.
At this point I stopped for a couple of photos. It’s a noteworthy place of the Black Hawk war, because the militia companies from Prairie Ronde and Gull Prairie were dismissed here after returning from Niles – the nearest they got to the fighting. (That’s the way I remember reading about it 20-some years ago; however, I can’t now find the reference to this event in my notes or files.)
A couple of years earlier, one of the first clusters of settlement on Prairie Ronde had been here at Insley Corners. A couple of mills were built on the creek, and Lyman I Daniels, the first lawyer in Kalamazoo County, lived here briefly before going to Schoolcraft, which turned out to be the main commercial center on the prairie, leaving Insley Corners in the dust, so to speak. Daniels was captain of the militia company from Prairie Ronde that was dismissed here, but this place was probably not home for him. He had probably already moved to Schoolcraft by the time of the Black Hawk War.
Insley Corners turned out not to be a big commercial center. Google doesn’t know where it is. Twenty years ago, when I finally figured out where it was (it’s not shown as a named location on any of the old maps I’ve seen) I stopped and knocked on doors, asking some of the local residents about it. It seemed that not even they knew that their location had once been known as Insley Corners.
This is the view looking south from the same location. Prairie Ronde is excellent land for row crops, but on the right side of the road, near the creek, there is a housing development and a golf course. The paved stretch of road is very brief, and the road soon reverts to gravel, almost all the rest of the way to Flowerfield, if I remember correctly.
The reason I have to rely on my memory is that I didn’t go to Flowerfield. My destination was the township hall, which is not located in the village. I always like riding through the village, but this time, on a whim, I turned west on XY Avenue, which got me off of some of the old, familiar routes onto some I don’t remember ever taking before. XY is a paved road, so it had the added benefit of getting me off of the gravel.
At the point shown in this photo I’m looking back on XY Avenue.
After heading straight west for three miles, XY Avenue starts angling to the northwest. But I needed to go south, so I tried this road. It’s identified on Google Maps as 7th Street, and where it crosses into St Joseph County, as Brown Jug Road. I don’t remember whether there were any street signs with those names.
This scene is approximately at the county line, though there weren’t any signs to tell me I was entering St Joseph County or Flowerfield Township.
Brown Jug Road was pleasant, but soon I was back on paved roads. When approaching a township hall I like to stop and take a photo at the place where I first sight it. I was a little slow in remembering to do it here, but the township hall is ahead on the left in the photo, next to the township cemetery.
The next destination was Newberg Township Hall. I stayed on some more first-time roads until I reached the township line at Dutch Settlement Road, which forms part of the southern boundary to Flowerfield Township. (The “dutch settlement” after which the road is named is quite a few miles further west.) When I turned south it may have been on roads I have ridden before, but if so I didn’t remember them. This is lake country and was the hilliest part of the ride, but I can’t say I minded as the wind was still at my back, helping to make them easy.
I originally planned to go further than Newberg Township but at the last minute decided this was far enough. I had stopped here once before and remembered it as a pleasant place to take a break. A relaxing place to end the ride counts for something, too. I took my time with photos here, and soon Myra came to pick me up.